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This non-traditional Smoked Pork Carnitas is a flavorful Tex Mex BBQ mash up recipe. Thanks to using a citrus marinade, and a homemade seasoning mix of Mexican spices, the pork comes out smoky, tender, flavorful and melt in your mouth rich with crispy edges.
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All about these Smoked Carnitas
Slow smoked pork carnitas are the best of Tex Mex BBQ. This flavorful, marinated pork butt has all the flavors that you know and love in traditional Carnitas, but with the smokiness of Texas BBQ. Making this a fun, flavorful twist on a Texas Smoked Pulled Pork. The resulting meat is perfect for serving in all of your favorite Tex Mex dishes. Some of the reasons we love this recipe:
- Easy to prepare: an easy to make marinade and homemade dry rub are all that’s needed.
- Versatile: the meat can be used in so many ways including: tacos, enchiladas, burritos, nachos and more.
- Smoker: using an electric pellet grill keeps the cooking process easy and fairly hands off.
Table of Contents
- Pork Butt/ Pork Shoulder: the best cut for Mexican pulled pork is the pork shoulder, which is labeled as pork butt at the markets. A whole pork shoulder can be divided into two sections: the top is the Boston butt, labeled as pork butt at the market. The lower part is called the picnic roast.
- Carnitas Marinade: made with avocado oil, orange juice, lime juice, chopped jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, cumin, coriander, and mexican oregano.
- Carnitas Seasoning: used as a dry rub after marinating. This is made of salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, chili powder, coriander, and cumin.
Pork butt/Boston Butt is going to be the most common cut you will find pre-packaged at the market. It’s perfect for pulled pork, it has more connective tissue and less bone. Which means after cooking this cut low and slow all day, you end up with a lot of tender meat.
How to Make
- Marinate the meat, prepare the marinade and add the pork to a large sealable bag or container with a lid. Pour the marinade so that it coats the meat. Seal and place container or bag into the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
- Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry. Drizzle a small amount of oil over the meat and rub with your hands to evenly coat the roast. Mix together the dry rub and sprinkle it evenly over the entire pork roast.
- Smoke at 225 degrees F for approximately 5-6 hours or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
- Prepare to braise the pork. At 160 degrees F, remove the pork from the smoker and place in a disposable baking tin, or cast iron skillet with the juice of 1 orange and 1 lime, plus the 2 bay leaves, cover with foil.
- Continue cooking the pork, braising it in the liquid. This can be done in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the smoker set to 350 degrees. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 203 degrees F.
- Shred the pork and spread out on a large baking sheet. Broil in the oven for 4-5 minutes until the ends begin to crisp and caramelize.
Pork butt will need approximately 2 hours of cook time per pound if cooking at 225 degrees F.
Pork tastes best when smoked with a mild to medium flavored smoke. The best options include:
You can use any of these on their own, or do a pairing. Using either Hickory or Oak and pairing with a sweet fruity wood gives great options.
Think Hickory & Cherry, or Oak & Apple. Hickory and oak will provide a nice, rich, dark bark to the outside of the pork, while the sweeter wood gives a hint of sweetness to the smokey flavor the meat takes on.
How to Serve Smoked Carnitas
Wondering how to serve and enjoy this smoked mexican pork? Or maybe you have leftovers and would like to enjoy the meat in different ways throughout the week? There are so many options available!
- Smoked Pulled Pork Tacos: these pulled pork tacos will have a smoky citrus flavoring. Layer the smoked pork on warm corn tortillas and top with fresh diced onion and cilantro with your favorite salsa or crumbled cotija or queso fresco.
- Enchiladas: soft corn tortillas filled with meat, cheese and smothered in a classic Tex Mex Chili Gravy Enchilada Sauce.
- Burritos: Fill up a large flour tortilla with the meat, rice, cheese, sour cream, avocado and your favorite salsa.
- Salads: Make a taco salad using the leftover smoked carnitas meat.
- Gorditas: use as filling inside puffy homemade Gorditas, add shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and cotija cheese.
- Nachos: layer crispy tortilla chips with meat, cheese, and all your favorite toppings.
Here are some of our favorite items for grilling/smoking.
More Texas BBQ Recipes
- 3-4 pound pork roast (pork butt)
- 1 orange juiced
- 1 lime juiced
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ bunch cilantro chopped
- 1 jalapeno seeds & membranes removed, chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon mexican oregano
- 3 cloves garlic smashed
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 orange juiced
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 bay leaves
- Prepare the marinade by combining the orange juice, lime juice, avocado oil, cilantro, jalapeno, salt, cumin, coriander, mexican oregano and smashed garlic cloves.
- Add the pork to a container with a lid or to a large resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the top.
- Seal and place in refrigerator to marinate overnight.
- Preheat smoker to 225 degrees F.
- Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
- In a small bowl combine the spices for the dry rub. Stir to combine.
- Drizzle the oil over the pork and rub with your hands to evenly coat.
- Evenly sprinkle the dry rub over the pork and using your hands press into the meat so it sticks.
- Place the pork directly on the grill grates and smoke for approximately 5-6 hours until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
- At 160 degrees F, remove the pork from the smoker and place in a disposable baking tin, or cast iron skillet with the juice of 1 orange and 1 lime, plus the 2 bay leaves, cover with foil.
- Heat smoker to 350 or use your stove (the meat has already gotten all of the smoke flavor), and continue to cook the pork until it reaches an internal temperature of 203 degrees F.
- Once the meat reaches temperature, remove from the smoker or oven and keeping it covered, let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to broil.
- Shred the meat and place on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with some of the liquid from braising.
- Broil the meat for 4-5 minutes until it begins to crisp and caramelize.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool briefly before serving.
- How to Store and Reheat: Store any leftover pulled pork in a sealed container in a refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat, place pork in a sealed plastic bag, and place the bag in a pot of boiling water. This helps the pork to retain all moisture during the reheating. Can also wrap the pork in a wet paper towel and microwave as a quicker option.
- Freezing: store in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. To thaw, remove to refrigerator the night before using. Then reheat following instructions above.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Photography by KJandCompany.co